Who Are China’s Walking Dead? is a recently released book by documentary filmmaker Kay Rubacek from Swoop Films. And no, the book does not have anything to do with the popular comic and TV show The Walking Dead. Instead, the book gives us a glimpse into the life of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials, some of whom call themselves “Walking Dead,” a term that indicates that they are functioning in the world without a mind of their own.
The idea for writing Who Are China’s Walking Dead? came to Rubacek’s mind when she was interviewing ex-CCP officials for her movie Finding Courage. She was shocked when some of the officials called themselves “Walking Dead.”
One labor camp director revealed that the world of CCP officialdom is dark and extremely cruel. A propaganda official admitted that they had been doing the job knowing fully well that the propaganda they were spreading was vastly disconnected from reality. A judge notes that many Chinese officials have a dysfunctional state of mind where they have to pretend that they are someone else every single day.
A Chinese diplomat remarked that the law is only applicable to people who belong to the lower classes and do not have any powerful connections. A high-ranking officer stated that being in the Party means being forced to tell lies. In fact, he believes that it is impossible to be in the Party and not become a liar. In addition to these, several more former Party members were interviewed for the book, each one revealing the horrifying world of CCP officialdom.
Rubacek meshes their stories together with leaked CCP documents and directives, creating an engaging and compelling look into what drives the actions of the Communist Party, how CCP officials rise and fall in power, and how the culture of the Party has influenced and changed the lives of Chinese citizens.
Rubacek herself has a history of conflict with communism. Her grandparents fled communist Russia to settle in China, only to run away from communism once again in 1945. Her husband’s family fled the communist rule of Czechoslovakia in 1984. As for Rubacek, she was arrested by the Chinese communist regime in 2001 for the ‘crime’ of advocating for human rights.
Escaping from the CCP
One of the interviewees, former labor camp director Guangsheng Han, recalls how he had unknowingly become part of the brutal torture of a 15-year-old girl in a criminal institution. He tried to change the system from the inside but ended up in failure, eventually moving out of the country as he no longer wanted to be a part of the regime’s brutality. Han had realized that he was “just a tiny ant. I absolutely couldn’t change anything.”
Fengjun Hao was a national security agent during his time with the CCP. In the book, Hao narrates how he was arrested and jailed for a month by authorities for not agreeing to lie. He was asked by his superiors to lie about the persecution of Falun Gong to CCP media. During his term in prison, his family was told by officials that Hao was on a business trip.
During his career, Hao met numerous Falun Gong practitioners in labor camps and prisons, something that shocked him to the core. Hao soon realized that he couldn’t live under such an oppressive regime and moved far away from China.